Black Hill Journals - 11
Waking up blessed in the Black Hill
Grateful yet another day here
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
It has been weeks since I looked forward to have a glimpse of the guardian deity Mount Kanchenjunga from here. Previous evening was pleasant like the one two days back but did not give a hint that the morning would be that fine so as to find me blessed welcoming yet another great day in my life. As I opened the window of my Muma's room, the view was grand. I rushed to the terrace to have a full and complete view of what was all there to open the day so grateful. Every morning is not so lucky during this season when the peak elludes. A moment it is there to have just a glimpse of the golden peak and another moment it is covered but to be there again but silver white later. Such is the hide and seek this morning to capture these beautiful moments and share with my friends and relatives on Facebook. It was not that the Nature's bounty was not here earlier but for me to find and realize what the beauty life has to offer being blessed this glorious morning here to be in the Black Hill!
Independence Day celebrations here was all vibrant with kids dressed in various forms of tricolour were seen going with the flag to participate and perform while elders were seen in their best attire. Cars were with flags fluttering in true mood with people pouring in thronging the ground packed to full perhaps the best in recent years. The function lasted till late evening when a part of the day was marred by the unexpected shower but not to dampen the spirit and wash out the celebrations of the year. People were seen returning to their home discussing the function or football match as they were to have such a joyful moment only next year. It was once a year function to attend here and one does not know he/she would be here again as senior students would leave passing outof the school. No wonder when Ranjana asking me if I heard some male voice singing (practising with the p.a. system on) from the early morning Lag ja gale ki phir yeh hanseen raat ho na ho, Shayad is janama mein mulakat ho na ho (Lata number from Woh kaun thi 1964) He might be having a good voice but it was not the occasion for such a song but for the patriotic songs that would have been appreciated more. Teachers are not to be blamed either for the age students reach by the time do all the trick to have such sentiments flowing abundant and only some guidance would save such a situation otherwise.
As I was watching Prime Minister addressing the Nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, a flight of birds came outside perched on the tree and started singing in their melody best as if to greet me on the auspicious occasion that made me to take a video from my mobile though not that satisfactory result. Ranjana told me about a large butterfly sitting on Muma's window outside and I go to take a shot. It flies away but rests on a marigold plant nearby as if to give better pose to click and what a shiny black beauty unusual to come across all these days here. Some years ago while writing for the Sikkim Herald myself as the editor-in-chief, I wrote that the yellow butterflies often found fluttering in and around water-holes while travelling towards Rhenock near Kumrek-Rorathang stretch were no more to be seen. It was, therefore, a pleasant surprising to find a flight of them just near my residence around water-holes on the kutcha road to school as we go for a walk last evening!
In his address Prime Minister was telling how the country is getting self sufficient in energy sector - even remote villages getting the opportunity to see him thus standing some 150' high at the Red Fort. Little while ago the commentator was telling that from here one gets the wonderful view of Chandni Chowk with a temple or two, a mosque and Sheeshganj Gurudwara together in front to picture the secular India. Whereas we here in this part of the Black Hill were without power supply with the inverter saving the day to have the Independence Day celebrated with the comforts of my home 'Jaisri', Rhenock 737 133 Sikkim along the Reshi-Rongli Road at 10th kilometre post. Here the BSNL is with No Service sign most of the time, day and night so be with the Digital India here. LED bulb is the saving grace as I get more back up time enhancing the inverter-battery efficiency. PM Modi was telling that out of 77 crores as target 18 crores of LED bulbs have already been distributed so far and that would be equal to generating 30 thousand megawatt of electricity. If a house uses LED bulbs one would be saving at least Rs. 350/- annually for the elecric rent. Energy saved is the energy generated - very much like the money saved is money earned. With LED available reasonably priced ranging from Rs. 70/- to 90/- for 5 to 9 watt bulb and most of the points provided with LED bulbs and some more would be to take place of the CFL, which is best for use outside, hopefully contributing my might/share to the National cause/efforts thus. Otherwise, LED would be filled by tiny insects accumulated at the bottom while the ordinary bulb would find many of them on the wall to get early birds busy picking them every morning that I miss these days from those seen during my previous stays. This year was 350th Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh,who used to say what hand is that that did not have the parched marks left showing that you had worked. Heavy pruning of the azaleas in front-yard has done the trick to leave my hands so marked but the joy you get after all these weeks to see them all with fresh green shoots all over again. It was also the Birth Centenary Year of Din Dayal Upadhayaya, in whose name we have Din Dayal Upadhayaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, Din Dayal Upadhayaya Antyodaya Upchar Yojana and Din Dayal Upadhayaya Grameen Kaushal Yojana besides many of the institutions all over the country. The last named Yojana reminds me of my Vikasko Goreto Grameen Proudyogiki - Kam Dam Dher Gyanka Satheek Sujhauharu (2001) that I gave to probably the most dedicated farmer of the Aritar GPU, my milkman Arjun/Arun Pradhan in appreciation of all his efforts with five milching cows and paddy cultivation with 15 muris of seeds even during the time when such things are left much to be desired in this Organic era. With paddy sowing season over, he has taken up cardamom plantation. What could be a better way than this to celebrate the 70th Independence Day in the Black Hill and to mark my return here Rhenocking, err Re-knocking the place!
I was showing Arun our picture with Anna Hazare at his village Ralegaon Siddhi taken in the year 2000 to honour his remarkable contributions there. He had then shared with us his days at the Chalisey camp driving heavy vehicles to the Nathula-Jalepla borders. Chalisey is our neighbourhood where we have spent best time enjoying the movies and the CSD facilities besides the medical facility whenever needed. Best remembered when the jeep in which I was travelling turned turtle all passengers to escape major injury but me in front seat door-side to get cuts on left hand and above the left eye. I rushed to the Army Unit to get the first aid. I was on my way back to Gangtok to report for duty after spending a month's leave for my marriage in February 1975. Next time it was after our Gaya Teerth with my Buba-Muma and Thulo Mama-Maiju when I had a holy dip in the Ganga at Varanasi to get infected to find the antiseptic cream Boroline from railway stall purchased a fake one to make me thereafter rely more on Dettol and plain Vaseline. With a Patna-based IAS friend's help, we could board the train back home and the Army doctor here at Chalisey told me that had I been a late by a sinle day things would have turned worse with the kind of infection I had face swollen. Another incident to bring me back and connect with this place was during our USA Sojourn 2015 to meet the retired Army officer who was once posted at Chalisey to share fond memories of the place with cordial relationship the had with the public here particularly from the proprietor of the Woodland Nursery, Thulo Mama with flower pots to decorate the camp whenever some dignitaries visited the camp. It was during the time of Lt.Colonel Saklani when I mentioned the name, him to agree.
This Independence Day was also a Monday to coincide with the fourth and last of the month Sawan that Ranjana observed whole month to visit and offer Puja in the Sri 3 Siddheshwar Mahadev Shivalaya Mandir constructed by Taksari Chandrabir Pradhan more than century ago at bazar. Buhari Sunira came to pick her up and for me it was an occasion to get the vehicle enter the newly constructed approach road just to mark the Day. It would have been completed with proper soling done but the workers had a long break of 10 days mourning Bhaichung's death. Yet they absented next day for another funeral in the neighbourhood that I offered khada to the departed as the procession had stopped on the road. They completed constructing the wall as Bijoy and Buhari back from Gangtok visit us to find the road taking some shape after two months of work. The workers would be celebrating much awaited Independence Day but to go off the work on the 16th as well just to prove that our people in Sikkim are more Indian than the Indians as the Bihari carpenters were seen working and so also the BRO workers and trucks moving. School was also closed while some college students in uniform were seen on the road. This reminds me of an anecdote mentioned in my Sikkim: Three Decades towards Democracy that how a colleague of ours, a brilliant officer and blue-eyed boy had remarked that we were more Indian than the Indians whereas he used to be conspicuous by his absence in official function that demanded presence to mark solidarity and reflect patriotism. Even the Chief Minister had commented on such behaviour of some of our senior officers. So was the case of the National Flag that went size reduced after someone assumed the high office last time - it could be just a co-incidence but me being more of a keen observer rather than a devout patriot to think of all such odd things to attract my or my reader's mind about things here to find workers are more so than our such high ranking officials. It need not be mentioned they had been receiving their best whereas no Laddos on I Day workers protested against the distribution of Chocolates make Dagapur Tea Estate management flee away report on Facebook was amusing enough.
In his address to the Nation, PM Modi stressed the priority of his Government to give 'Empowerment rather than Entitlement' and 'Identity of the Country rather than that of the Party'. He is being looked as the Best Face for the Incredible India campaign as per some media report. PM also mentioned of 30 thousand army personnel turned martyrs since Independence and of the One Rank One Pension. To be with those posted in defence of our country, his ministers going to different border sectors to tie Rakhi and Smriti Irani reaching Siachen Base. Located at the height of 15 to 22 thousand feet Siachen occupies a strategic location sandwiched between China and Pakistan occupied Kashmir with very hostile climatic conditions. Many would not be knowing that there is one such Army personnel who served there at Siachen and born, brought up and educated from our own land in the Black Hill.
Shyam who had earlier done sawing of the thick azalea bushes helped me the day previous to sow the fruit plants while some were left for later day as banana and papaya plants need more care and proper place. Our refrigerator finally got working as its motor for the cooling system with fan had to be replaced when left unused unusually for rather a very long time and boys from Rangpo had done the needful as they had come back with a new spare for the old one taken as sample with some advance money. A stitch in time saves nine as the proverb goes and saved much more with the patience we kept as buying a new one would have meant much with the price soared high for such products. Where would have we kept the old one even if we purchased new. Further, there was no good model of our choice readily available when we tried on arriving here thinking that a refrigerator was a must but nothing like that. With monsoon here weather was okay temperature-wise as light woollen is needed in the morning with something to wrap around while working on my laptop. With the refrigerator back in service, it was nice giving chilled cold drink to the thirsty workers toiling hard in the sun.
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names (asterisk for those no more), quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim is available at the Rachna Books.